Aug 21

Kevin DeYoung: A Pastoral Guide for Political Reflection

2015 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Link

Kevin DeYoung is the lead pastor at University Reformed Church in Lansing, Michigan. Since he began publishing, DeYoung has served the church well through the publication of many timely books. He also writes regularly at his blog hosted at The Gospel Coalition.

One topic DeYoung speaks to from time to time with nuance, insight, and conviction is politics. That shouldn’t be heard the wrong way. He’s not a political junkie who cares more about politics than his work as a pastor. But he understands the real, somewhat complicated, but always consequential role of political engagement for Christians given our opportunities in a democratic republic. He has done a nice job over the years of speaking to Christians concerning their role of citizens of this world, albeit a role secondary to our role as citizens of the next.

A nice example of this would be a piece published earlier this week, “Ten Things to Remember as the Presidential Campaign Season Gets Into Full Swing.” Here are his ten things:

1. We’re not electing a king.
2. Elections matter.
3. Character matters.
4. The best predictor of future performance is past performance.
5. You almost certainly will not have a beer with the next president.
6. The big picture matters more than all the details.
7. The candidates will say something stupid.
8. The media will do very little to help you understand the issues and what each candidate believes.
9. It is extremely unlikely that either party will nominate someone with no political experience.
10. The system could be much worse.

Click here to read DeYoung’s explanation of each point. Here’s his explanation of the last point:

Sure, there is plenty to complain about. The presidential campaign seems interminably long. It takes a boatload of money to stay in the race. We are all stupider because of Twitter and the 24-hours news cycle. And even the best debates are hardly Lincoln-Douglas material. But we do get a say. We do get a vote. We basically get the presidents we deserve. I’d rather have candidates pandering for our votes than dictating the terms of our surrender. Yes, if you want to be president it helps to be rich and famous, but you also have to hang out in New Hampshire all winter and shake the hand of every farmer in Iowa. I like that. There are good reasons to be frustrated with both parties. But with only two major parties, it’s hard to completely ignore most viewpoints. You can’t build a coalition without trying to appeal to a lot of diverse groups of people. So is the system broken? I’m sure it is, but I’m also sure there are more ways than we can imagine to fix it even worse.

DeYoung isn’t the only one to read during election season. He’s not going to write ongoingly about every turn and every issue in the presidential race. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission will be more helpful there. And there are others worth listening to who write and reflect from an explicit or roughly Christian worldview including Albert Mohler, Michael Gerson, Ross Douthat, etc.. The Gospel Coalition will publish a number of thoughtful pieces along the way, and Justin Taylor will drip pieces like these into the line of his blog at The Gospel Coalition:

But mixed in with posts on just about everything else a pastor would care about, DeYoung will provide consistent and timely insight into politics. Here are a few helpful pieces he’s published on Christian political reflection and engagement over the years:

Finally, since this is a post about who to listen to, let me suggest that TV news will be one of the least helpful resources for receiving and processing ideas and the specific views of candidates during this season. This is not to mischaracterize every network or show, but generally speaking TV news is a circus of perception creating and narrative forming media. Generally speaking, TV news does not foster careful or extended thought. Generally speaking, TV news cheapens and askews both good and bad arguments, both good and bad candidates. So, watch, yes. But read more than you watch. Be thoughtful and careful in the coming months.

For a pastor who writes on these things with care, concern, and a critical mind, Kevin DeYoung is worth the read.